Game of Thrones is over, but our watch on the yet-to-be-expanded franchise is just beginning. After the success of this show—Thrones was setting records by the week—soon there ought to be enough spinoff series to fill an entire catalog of programming and build multiple amusement parks. A prequel pilot about the Age of Heroes, set 10,000 years before the events of the show, has already been announced (George R.R. Martin wants to name it “The Long Night,” but his nomenclature authority is debatable these days). Others may be in the works. But even beyond that, the Thrones finale on Sunday night laid the groundwork for a number of other potential spinoffs. Whether they get made seems less like a matter of “if” and more a matter of “when.” So let’s look at five stories that were laid out by the finale, that could easily bloom into full series after this episode.
West of Westeros
“What’s West of Westeros?,” Arya asks Jon, Sansa, and Bran toward the end of the finale. “No one knows. That’s where the maps stop. That’s where I’m going.”
According to George R.R. Martin, “No one has ever traveled past the Sunset Sea to learn what’s on the other side,” though one intrepid explorer may have gotten all the way to Essos. Why doesn’t Bran just tell Arya what’s West of Westeros? Probably the same reason he wants a Master of Whisperers even though he knows everything. It’s about the journey, man. On that journey, and in this spinoff, Arya might become the first person to realize that the world is a sphere (sit down, Kyrie Irving). Look at Martin’s map—it reveals just how small a slice of the “known world” we’ve seen so far.
Westeros is on the left. Essos is in the center. The land mass below Essos is a continent called Sothoryos, and the landmass kitty-corner to the bottom right of the map is called Ulthos. Little is known about either. Martin told Vulture in 2014 he intentionally made the rest of the map hazy to reflect the knowledge gap in Westeros.
At least two continents are blank canvases for Arya’s journeys, with only the eastern part of Essos having a fleshed-out history. The desert in the right-center of the map is the Red Waste and Qarth—easily the farthest east Game of Thrones went. But east of Qarth is the Bone Mountains (which seem like an obvious stand in for the Himalayas), and we’ve never seen anything in that sizable chunk of the world. Among the places Arya could explore in a spinoff are the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, where Dany’s dragon eggs were from and where Melisandre was born, and Yi Ti, a region with more cities than anywhere else in the known world, a palace supposedly larger than the entirety of King’s Landing, and a brewing civil war between the dude in that palace, a sorcerer king, and a clan of Dothrakilike people who ride zorses (zebra-horses—no, seriously). There is also a legendary settlement called the Five Forts that may have been built to keep out their own version of the Night King, and there’s a galaxy-brain theory that Westeros and Essos are connected around the edges, but nobody knows because it’s too cold.
Dunk and the Egg
Before Brienne spills some ink on Jaime’s, uh, swordplay in the Book of Brothers, which records the history of every member of the Kingsguard, she thumbs through tales of various knights through the history of the Seven Kingdoms—tales that might be ripe for spinoff material. The book itself could be perfect fodder for an anthology miniseries (think The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but in Westeros). One page Brienne passes particularly stands out:
That entry belongs to none other than Ser Duncan the Tall, the titular figure of “Tales of Dunk and the Egg,” George R.R. Martin’s series about Duncan and future king Aegon V Targaryen. Martin has written three novels that cover their pre-knight and pre-king days, though he has said he wants to chronicle their whole lives, either in six or seven or 12 books. Even if he doesn’t write all them, there’s plenty of substance there for an adaptation. The tales include the War of the Ninepenny Kings, which would give us young Barristan Selmy, and Brynden Rivers before he became the Three-Eyed Raven. Egg’s death also leads to his son, the Mad King, landing on the Iron Throne, so it would be a fitting prologue.
As Martin himself explained on his blog in April 2014:
I am frequently asked whether or not there are any plans for Dunk & Egg movies or television shows. There has been interest, yes, but the rights situation is complicated. Film and television rights to the characters and the three published Dunk & Egg stories remain with me at present... but HBO, when acquiring the rights to the SONG OF ICE & FIRE novels, also acquired film and television rights to the world of Westeros. So if we did Dunk & Egg with anyone else, we would need to remove all the references to House Targaryen, the Iron Throne, etc... not completely impossible, but certainly undesireable. Whereas if HBO decided they wanted to make a Dunk & Egg miniseries or TV movies, they’d first need to buy the stories. That’s a much more attractive proposition for all concerned, I think... but if it happens, it will happen years from now, not tomorrow, and not next week.
Now that Thrones is over, maybe we can get all this legal mumbo-jumbo squared away and get started on The Ballads of the Kingsguard: Dunk and Egg?
The Westeros Wing
The best part of Thrones was always the politicking, and after Bran the Broken assembled his small council in the series finale, the best remaining characters are all together. There’s hand of the king (and forgotten to history) Tyrion and Master of Coin Bronn, who have the best chemistry of any duo in the entire series. There’s Brienne of Tarth as the Commander of the Kingsguard, Davos as Master of Ships (and grammar), and Grand Maester Sam Tarly, who isn’t even a Maester. Altogether, they make up one heck of a small council. Throw them in a room, add in a nonchalant boss in Bran Stark and Kingsguard Sex God Pod, and there is plenty here for a series. Let’s talk about Westeros’s infrastructure; how to properly integrate Dorne into the realm; a tribunal on how Lord Robin got so hot; the search for Drogon, a missing nuclear weapon. Let’s do soliloquies on monarchies while speedwalking through the charred remains of the Red Keep. Imagine this speech, but Tyrion’s directing it at the High Sparrow.
Toward the end of the series finale, Grey Worm and his Unsullied Army set sail for the beaches of Naath, looking to uphold the promise he and Missandei had the gall to make before the Battle of Winterfell. Defending the beaches from anybody who would attack Naath should be light work for the Unsullied Army (I imagine they could fend off a few ships in 15 minutes, tops.) So really, this show would be about a bunch of stressed-out dudes who find bliss in a gorgeous beach town. The Unsullied could stay in Naath, enjoy those beaches, and get a little sullied. Grey Worm could open a seaside bar, makes some fermented goat milk, and get around to playing those drinking games Tyrion was always blabbering about. Just a town full of chiseled eunuchs learning to surf and love themselves. (OK, this one’s less serious than the others, but you have to admit it sounds awesome.)
Beyond the Wall
“You’ve got the North in you,” Tormund tells Jon in the fourth episode of Season 8. “The real North.”
Jon’s glance back at the closing of the Wall’s gate indicated that he doesn’t plan on heading back to Castle Black anytime soon. It’s hard not to wonder whether Jon will follow in the footsteps of Mance Rayder, a Night’s Watch deserter who rose to become the king beyond the wall. Jon is already as respected among the free folk as Mance was, and he and Tormund could take their buddy-cop duo and go for some real Northern justice. This would probably be the first time we’d ever see Jon function in a community he truly feels he belongs to—it’d also be a way for HBO to appease Ghost enthusiasts after Thrones cast the direwolf aside for so many seasons. (It should be noted: Kit Harington is probably done with Thrones forever—he was quite shaken up by the show. If that’s the case, let’s just recast the role and keep trudging along.)
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.